Scaling isn’t easy; 70% of startups struggle with scaling up and 46% of small businesses fail because of poor planning during growth. That’s why developing a plan for how to train new workers before you even hire them is crucial. You need new workers to come up to speed quickly and you need to make sure everyone is served the learning content that will help them.
How does a boom in business affect your learning and development strategy, and how can you quickly grow your training program to keep up with the rest of the company?
Here are five pointers for scaling learning fast when your company is going through a time of rapid growth.
1. Technology is your friend
This may seem obvious – especially coming from a blog about elearning — but the best way to train a lot of people is by using online learning. In-person training is great and beneficial for specific kinds of training. However, if you need to train a lot of workers quickly and consistently, online training scales much more easily.
Once you have the courses you need, it’s easy to make it available to as many new employees as you need to. By the same token, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing mobile learning as well. Some employees are more comfortable learning on their desktop, and some like the option of learning on a phone or tablet. You want to make learning as easy as possible for everyone, and you also want to reach your mobile and remote workers, so be sure you’re giving them as many options as possible for training.
2. Use analytics to monitor learners’ progress
Providing learning to a large number of new hires is one thing. Knowing how those hires are performing is another.
When you’re training a small team, you can check in on employees’ learning manually. If you’re monitoring a large group of learners, however, you’re going to need to see who is doing well at a glance. This is another reason why e-learning is invaluable for growing companies — the dashboard of an LMS will let you see — at a glance — who is taking training, who isn’t, who is doing well and who needs help.
3. Supplement existing training with off-the-shelf content
If your company is growing quickly, chances are, you’ll have to expand your learning content as well, especially if you’re training the skills you need rather than hiring for them.
You may not have time to develop courses in-house during a time of explosive growth — according to an ATD study, it takes between 42 and 130 hours to create one hour of e-learning. When you’re strapped for time, and facing an influx of new learners, the best way to grow your training program fast is to purchase some of the content you need.
Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of pre-made courses available for purchase. Some are general courses that relate to compliance and policies that affect your state or area. Others are general sales or customer service courses, industry-specific courses, or training regarding things like soft skills. By purchasing them rather than developing these courses in-house, you can save time and your training budget.
4. Use video check-ins for one-on-one training
While self-paced learning is helpful for scaling learning, sometimes workers need one-on-one help with a specific task. This can be particularly true of new workers, who have to learn a new sales pitch, or how to handle a difficult customer on the phone.
In these cases, you may need to coach new employees through a difficult or delicate task. If you’ve recently hired a lot of new employees, however, providing in-person coaching to each might not be possible.
That’s where video assessments come in. Video assessments are an online learning module that can be added to a course if a training manager wants to actually see learners’ progress. If you add a video assessment to a course, an online learner will have to upload a video of themselves doing something — like giving a sales pitch, or showing how they might handle a difficult customer — to a learning module.
You’ll then review the video and offer feedback directly to the learner. This allows you to see where new hires are doing well, where they’re struggling, and how well they’re applying the information they’ve learned in the previous modules. It also lets them know that you’re paying attention to their progress and available to help them if they have a problem.
5. Know you’ll probably have to train — not hire— your talent
Scaling up is exciting, but it’s also anxiety-inducing, especially now, when most companies are faced with a talent shortage.
The U.S. unemployment rate was at 3.5% in September of this year. While a low unemployment rate is good news for job seekers, it can be an intimidating challenge for companies scaling up. According to Gartner, CEOs say talent shortages are one of the biggest obstacles they face when it comes to company growth.
This means you’re unlikely to find the talents you’ll need in the wild when you start hiring. Plan to create a comprehensive training program that will train exactly the skills your company needs, from product knowledge to customer service, to simple soft skills like time management and good communication.
By developing an L&D strategy for times of growth, you’ll be able to train up the talent you need so your company can flourish.